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Lung Disease & Respiratory Health Center

Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension

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Treatment

Pulmonary hypertension varies from person to person, so your treatment plan will be specific to your needs. Ask your doctor what your options are and what to expect.

First, your doctor will treat the cause of your condition. For example, if emphysema is causing the problem, you'll need to treat that to improve your pulmonary hypertension.

Most people also get treatment to improve their breathing, which makes it easier to be active and do daily tasks. Oxygen therapy, when you breathe pure oxygen through prongs that fit in your nose, will help if you’re short of breath and have low oxygen levels in your blood. It helps you live longer when you have pulmonary hypertension. If you are at risk for blood clots your doctor will recommend blood thinners. Other medicines improve how well your heart works and keep fluid from building up in your body.

If you have severe pulmonary hypertension, your doctor may prescribe medications called calcium channel blockers. These medicines lower blood pressure in the lungs and the rest of the body.

If calcium channel blockers aren’t enough, your doctor may refer you to a specialized treatment center. You may need more targeted therapies that can open up your narrowed blood vessels. They may be pills, medicines you breathe in, or drugs that are given through an IV. Options include:

  • Pills: Adcirca, Adempas, Esbriet, Letairis, Ofev, Opsumit, Revatio, Staxyn, Tracleer, Tyvaso
  • Inhalers: Tyvaso, Ventavis
  • IV drugs: Flolan, Revatio, Tyvaso

In more severe cases, or if medicines don't help, your doctor may recommend a lung transplant or a procedure called atrial septostomy. A surgeon creates an opening between the right and left sides of the heart. This surgery can have serious side effects.

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